By Norbert Mao
The hasty dispatch of NRM big wigs to run around the country to drum up support for the lifting of the presidential age limit is a major sign of panic.
Wherever they went, they locked out likely dissenters and made sure they paid attendees handsomely for giving a nod to what is arguably the most unpopular proposal the Museveni regime has ever hatched. From reports coming out of these consultations, it seems the NRM has decided to delude itself that their branch leaders after being bribed with cash can pretend to speak for the whole country.
What is going on are not consultations but manipulations. The process is secretive, not inclusive or open and is based on inducements and coercion. The NRM is so unsure of its arguments that now the masses have become their number one enemy.
With this kind of process, the NRM leaders, if they succeed in getting their way, should also amend the preamble of the constitution and preface it with “We the NRM…” instead of “We the people…”. What we are likely to end up with is a dismembered document incapable of achieving the lofty goals declared by its framers.
It will also be an insult to the first agenda of the NRM’s Ten Point Program which put democracy on top. Listen to the laudable but now betrayed point the NRM proclaimed about democracy. It is worthy of being fully reproduced as a monument to the hypocrisy that the current rulers personify.
“There are lot of mockeries of “democracy” around the globe. In our case, for democracy to be meaningful and not a mockery, it must contain three elements: parliamentary democracy, popular democracy and a decent level of living for every Ugandan.
In other words, there should be an elected parliament, elected at regular intervals and such elections must be free of corruption and manipulation of the population….Democracy in politics, however, is not possible without a reasonable level of living for all the people of Uganda.
An illiterate, sick, superstitious Ugandan does not really take part in the political life of the country even when here is formal democracy. It is normally the local elite, pandering to the various schemes of the unprincipled factions of the national elite that manipulate the population on behalf of the latter with bribes, misinformation, taking advantage of their ignorance.
Therefore, the NRM, after removing Obote must think of democracy in a total context of real emancipation. Hence the importance of some of the subsequent points on out programme. Before leaving this point, it must be pointed out that the immediate problem of Uganda is not economic, but political. When the political questions were mishandled, the economic problem ensued; and unless the political question is amicably resolved, there will be no economic recovery in Uganda”.
Thirty one years down the road, this declaration bears witness against the NRM. They correctly diagnosed the problem but have failed to implement the necessary treatment. The constitution making process that culminated in the election of Constituent Assembly delegates and the debate and promulgation of the 1995 constitution was a bold attempt to ensure that “the political question is amicably resolved”. It was not a perfect document but it was broadly owned. The delegates who refused to sign the final document were only protesting the unwarranted ban on political party activities.
No matter how much money is splashed, no matter how much intimidation is unleashed against dissenters and no matter the lies, the reality is that lifting the presidential age limit is only good for Museveni. It is bad for Uganda. Compared to 2005 when there were some signs like people wearing dry banana leaves, in 2017 opposition to the lifting of the presidential age limit is most potent in strongholds Museveni swept in the last elections.
The multitudes across the country are resolved to be active agents of history rather that passive victims. They want to see a smooth and peaceful transition of power in their lifetime. They are rejecting the phones arguments that the constitution is being made better.
They are seeing what is being called a surgeon’s lancet for what it really is – a butcher’s axe aimed at the central nervous system of our constitution. Like Jacob who faithfully tended Laban’s sheep hoping to win Rachel’s hand in marriage, they received the bride in a dark tent only to wake up in the morning to find that their reward was not the delectable Rachel but the ugly Leah. Ugandans are waking up from the trauma of sleeping with an illusion.
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